Conflicts & War

Colombian gov’t, ELN aim to finalize details of cease-fire agreement this week

Havana, Jul 10 (EFE).- Peace negotiators representing the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group on Monday are beginning a days-long meeting aimed at ironing out the details of two key agreements announced in June.

One of those accords pertains to a six-month bilateral national cease-fire and the other to a mechanism to define the participation of Colombian society in the peace process.

In the coming days, the two delegations will be reviewing and forseeably signing roughly 10 protocols that flesh out and finalize the details of what they agreed upon in Havana on June 9, spokespersons from both sides told Efe.

Matters relevant to the implementation of the cease-fire agreement on the ground starting Aug. 3 are to be discussed.

These include the requested role of a United Nations verification mission to monitor the truce.

Also to be discussed is the launch prior to the end of July of the National Participation Committee, the entity that is to facilitate the participation of civil society and promote its contribution to ending the armed conflict.

The in-person gathering, which does not constitute a separate round of the peace process, was initially scheduled for July 10 to July 17 but may conclude earlier, those spokespersons said.

Representatives of the guarantor nations (Cuba, Norway, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile and Mexico) and of the facilitators of the process (the United Nations and the Catholic Church) are also present this week in the Cuban capital.

Prior to the meeting, two parallel working groups spent more than two weeks (from June 20 to July 6) hammering out the details of the cease-fire and the civil-society participation accords.

The implementation of those two agreements is crucial to the continuation of the peace process, the fourth round of which will kick off on Aug. 14 in Venezuela.

That country also was the venue for the first round of talks, which took place last November, while the second and third rounds were held in Mexico (February and March) and Cuba (May and June), respectively.

The two sides also separately decreed a cessation of offensive actions starting July 6, an accord reached in Havana that is intended as a stepping stone to an eventual 180-day “bilateral, national and temporary cease-fire.”

On July 3, the ELN’s Central Command ordered all of its structures to “halt all offensive military actions against military and police forces across the national territory.”

Two days later, Colombian President Gustavo Petro signed a decree providing similar instructions to government forces.

The composition of the National Participation Committee also has been finalized.

That body will include 80 representatives of 30 social sectors, including the private sector and ELN commanders.

These steps in the peace process are taking place amid uncertainty due to various violent actions in Colombia in the lead-up to the scheduled July 6 start to the cessation of offensive operations. EFE


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